Patent application title: System and method for controlling locks
April Elizabeth Rogers (Atlanta, GA, US)
David Bohn (Mosinee, WI, US)
IPC8 Class: AG07C900FI
Class name: Systems controlled by data bearing records credit or identification card systems permitting access
Publication date: 2015-05-14
Patent application number: 20150129657
A system and method for opening locks, primarily door locks like the
locks on hotel room doors using a handheld mobile device and a QR code. A
mobile user can be provided with a QR code either via email or from a
mobile phone application (App.). The QRC will be their room key. The
handheld mobile device will display the QRC on its display. A QRC scanner
is connected to the door lock through a processor that can decode the
QRC. The processor sends a command to the door lock to open when the
proper QRC is decoded.
1. A system for controlling a door lock comprising: a 3-dimensional
barcode scanner in communication with a processor, said processor having
access to memory, said processor in communication with a door lock
mechanism adapted to open said door lock; a set of executable
instructions executing in said processor; a table stored in said memory,
said table identifying at least one particular 3-dimensional barcode
currently valid for said door lock; said executable instructions
comparing a 3-dimensional barcode sent from said scanner with barcodes
stored in said table, and upon finding a match, said processor sending a
command to said door lock mechanism to open said door lock.
2. The system of claim 1 wherein said table contains valid codes based on check-in dates.
3. The system of claim 1 wherein said code contains a coded check-in date and a coded check-out date.
4. The system of claim 3 wherein a particular code is only valid for a particular door lock between a check-in date and a check-out date.
5. The system of claim 1 wherein said processor is a microcontroller.
6. The system of claim 1 wherein said scanner and said processor are a single unit.
7. The system of claim 1 wherein said scanner is adapted to scan a 3-dimensional barcode from a handheld mobile device.
8. The system of claim 1 wherein said processor senses when said door lock unlocks.
9. The system of claim 8 wherein said processor further commands said door lock mechanism to reengage said door lock a predetermined period of time after said door lock unlocks.
10. The system of claim 1 further comprising a special master code recognized by a plurality of door locks.
11. An apparatus for controlling a door lock comprising a QR scanner in communication with a door lock mechanism, said QR scanner adapted to send a door-open command to said door lock mechanism if a QR code is scanned that matches predetermined criteria stored in said QR scanner.
12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein said QR code contains a check-in date and a check-out date.
13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein said predetermined criteria is that a current date be between said check-in date and said check-out date.
14. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein said predetermined criteria is sent over a network to said QR scanner.
15. A method for controlling door locks comprising: sending a 3-dimensional barcode to a particular handheld mobile device by email; allowing said particular handheld mobile device to display said barcode to a scanner located in proximity to a lock; decoding said code and comparing it with predetermined criteria to decide whether said lock should be opened; commanding said lock to unlock if said predetermined criteria are met.
16. The method of claim 15 wherein said predetermined criteria relate to a hotel and are based on one or more of check-in date, check-out date, time of day or current date.
17. The method of claim 15 wherein said scanner includes a processor adapted to look up said predetermined criteria from a table.
18. The method of claim 15 further comprising sensing if said lock unlocks.
19. The method of claim 18 further comprising causing said lock to re-lock a predetermined period of time after is unlocks.
 This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 13/734,567 filed
Jun. 4, 2013, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,844,811 issued Sep. 30, 2014.
Application Ser. No. 13/734,567 is hereby incorporated by reference in
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to controlling locks and more particularly to a system and method for controlling and opening locks with a QR code (QRC).
 2. Description of the Problem
 There are numerous locks on doors like hotel rooms that are opened with either metal keys or with programmed plastic cards. It would be advantageous to have a system and method that could open a door lock, such as the lock on a hotel door, using a QR code displayed on a handheld device like a mobile phone.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to a system and method for opening locks, primarily door locks like the locks on hotel room doors using a handheld mobile device and a QR code. A mobile user can be provided with a QR code either via email or from a mobile phone application (App.). The QRC will be their room key. The handheld mobile device will display the QRC on its display. A QRC scanner is connected to the door lock through a processor that can decode the QRC. The processor sends a command to the door lock to open when the proper QRC is decoded.
DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
 Attention is now directed to several drawings that illustrate features of the present invention.
 FIG. 1 shows a block diagram of the functioning of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of a first embodiment that uses a stand-alone scanner.
 FIG. 3 shows a block diagram of a second embodiment that transmits the QRC image to a processor for decoding.
 FIG. 4 shows a block diagram of a third embodiment where the processor is combined with the scanner.
 Several drawings and illustrations have been presented to aid in understanding the present invention. The scope of the present invention is not limited to what is shown in the figures.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 Turning to FIG. 1, a block diagram of the present invention can be seen. A mobile device 1 such as a smartphone presents a displayed QRC to a scanner 2 associated with a door. A microcontroller 3 or other processor controls a lock mechanism 4 that can unlock the door. The QRC is obtained by the mobile device by email, by an App that resides on the smartphone, or by any other means. In general, the QRC scanner can be separate or integrated with the processor.
 The QR code itself will typically be determined by the end client to conform with the client's security requirements. The end client might be a business such as a hotel or chain of hotels or motels. The OR code can be managed and generated by third party private servers maintained by the end client or its agents. One example of a QR code is as follows: 1) The check-in date is encoded by two 64 bit encoded characters. These two characters can start at the date of the first implementation and run for a long time period (10 years for example). After the time period has run out, the date key can be reused. 2) The check-out date can be encoded by two more 64 bit encoded characters. The check-out data characters can also run for the same (or different) time period as the check-in date. 3) A four character (or other number) key can uniquely identify the lock for that matches that key. A particular scanner/lock mechanism can be supplied with a table of changing unique identifiers stored in memory and accessible to a processor that are assigned to that lock for a particular period based on the check-in date or on other criteria. The scanner can query this table to determine if the particular key is correct for the particular lock. This table can be optionally updated over a network. The network can optionally be wireless.
 The scanner can autonomously detect and decode a QR code from a mobile device display. The QRC can be read and examined by programming in the scanner device. The scanner can be supplied with a table that can be queried to determine the current unique identifier for that door. A particular OR code will usually remain stable and valid from check-in to check-out. When the scanner detects a valid key, a signal can be sent to a processor or directly to a lock mechanism to open the door.
 The preferred processor is a microcontroller; however, any processor is within the scope of the present invention including a remote processor accessed over a network. Typically, communication between the scanner and the processor can be handled through standard available general purpose input/output ports (GPIO). When the processor receives an open command from the scanner, the processor will typically do the following:
A. Send a port command to the lock mechanism to cause it to unlock. The communication between the lock and the processor may need to go through an interface circuit such as an H-bridge depending on the specifications of the lock mechanism. B. Verify that the lock has been opened. C. Wait for a predetermined time, and then re-engage the lock.
 The scanner and processor can be set up in several different configurations:
 According to FIG. 2, an external standalone scanner 5 (which can be a 3-D barcode scanner, smartphone or a specially designed QRC scanner) can be used and attached to a processor 3 by any connection technique (such as hardwire, USB, modem FSK, ASK or other, other serial port, direct GPIO link or by any other connection. In this embodiment of the invention, the scanner is responsible for decoding the QRC and sending an open signal to the processor 3 if it has determined that the lock mechanism 4 should open the lock. The processor 3 in this embodiment will handle interfacing with the lock mechanism 4.
 According to FIG. 3 an external standalone scanner 5 (which can be a 3-D barcode scanner, smartphone or a specially designed QRC scanner) can be used and attached to a processor 3 by any connection technique (such as hardwire, USB, modem FSK, ASK or other, other serial port, direct GPIO link or by any other connection just as in FIG. 2. However, in this embodiment, the processor 3 is responsible for taking the decoded QRC and making a decision on whether this is the correct key or not, and whether the door should be opened. If the key is correct, the processor 3 notifies the lock mechanism 4 to open. The processor 3 may be in communication with a remote information source where data on the current QRC for this lock can be downloaded. This download may be over a network.
 According to FIG. 4, the scanner and processor can be one integrated unit 6 that performs the QRC decode, determines if the key is correct for the lock and orders the lock mechanism 4 to open.
 In all of the embodiments, whether a QR code is valid can be based on the fact that the current date lies between a check-in date and a check-out date. A valid QR code can also be based on whether a guest has actually checked in and whether the guest has actually checked out. Data to this effect can be sent to the processor that checks criteria on whether a particular QR code key should be allowed to open a particular door or not. Data can be sent from a hotel computer or other remote source the processor over a network wired or wireless.
 The present invention also allows for the use of maids' keys and/or master keys. These can be special QR codes that each QR scanner or processor can recognize. These can be changed on command by the client or automatically on a periodic basis. Typically a master QR code key will be recognized by many different locks.
 It should be noted that while examples of the present invention have been given in relation to doors at facilities like hotels, any lock anywhere can be controlled using the present invention. Any part of the system might be remote and communication between parts of the system could take place over a network such as the Internet or over a private network. Remote communication can be encrypted for further security.
 It should also be noted that the choice of a particular QR code for a particular lock on a particular day or at a particular time can be made according to numerous different methods. While check-in, check-out in relation to hotel room locks has been given as an example, any method or technique for assigning a QR code to a particular lock at a particular date and/or time is within the scope of the present invention. Also, any method for decoding a presented QR code and sending a command directly or indirectly to a lock or lock mechanism is within the scope of the present invention.
 Several descriptions and illustrations have been presented to aid in understanding the present invention. One with skill in the art will realize that numerous changes and variations may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention. Each of these changes and variations is within the scope of the present invention.
Patent applications in class Permitting access
Patent applications in all subclasses Permitting access